These are hard times. It’s worth taking the time to meditate. At first glance, it’s hard to understand any effect of meditation. What exactly is mediation? Is it just to sit down, cross your legs in a lotus position, pinch your fingers, and close your eyes? What does it do?
Anybody who has adopted the practice can attest, that just a few minutes, even a mere two minutes of meditation, actually helps. It helps because as you stop to think and pray, it calms you down, your heart slows down and there is a sense of tranquility that comes with the heart beating at a slower pace. Those precious few minutes a day can help with anxiety, sleeping issues, stress, and chronic pain. It’s almost as if you’re doing yoga for the mind.
How do you begin to meditate? Just sit on the floor? At the beach? In the park? Anywhere in the house? Should you use a mat? A towel? Or can it be over the rug? The truth is: there are no rules. Do whatever works for you.
When you think about meditation, what image comes to mind? Will you try to copy that image? That’s ok! Most people associate meditation with that initial lotus position, but if you prefer to sit in a chair, go for it. As long as your body is in a neutral position and you manage to rest your mind for a few minutes, then it works.
Some people prefer to designate a little corner of the living room, or somewhere else in the home. Some people like to add some plants to their meditation spot. Some people add incense. Some people don’t add anything at all. What about music? At the beach, the sound of the ocean alone can lead you to meditation. There are people who like to use a certain kind of zen music to go with it, and other people who prefer silence.
Practice, practice, practice. You won’t see any results after the first session, or maybe even after the first week. But like everything in life, practice makes perfect. It will take some time until you see the results, but have faith, keep doing, and eventually, you’ll find your way.
Are meditation and praying the same? Most people associate meditation with some kind or praying, silent thinking, or silent wishing. The idea is not to think of nothing. That’s really hard to do, because we’re always thinking about something. The idea is to rest and bring a sense of peace and stretch into your mind, into your soul, and into your life.
It’s quite ironic to recommend an app for meditation. Indeed, because electronics are actually the opposite of what we want to focus on. A telephone is almost the enemy of meditation. We want to meditate to escape from the electronic world we live in! But it turns out, there are lots of meditation apps that do a great job. In the past, a meditation teacher might have made use of devices such as a cassette, or perhaps a record player. Well, think about the phone as those. But again, there are no rules. If you don’t want to use the phone, silence is a beautiful thing.
Breathe in, Breathe out
Have you ever paid any attention to your breathing? Have you ever counted your breathing? Try breathing in, in 6 counts. Try breathing out in 6 counts. Deep breaths, although it may sound very simple and impossible to be effective— it is! Deep breathing happens to be natural healing. The oxygenation of the blood improves, the muscles in your body become more relaxed, and breathing starts to come from the abdomen, as opposed to the chest. By nature, humans breathe from their belies. It’s only when we encounter a “fight or flight” response to danger that we begin to breathe from our chest.
Here is a quick tip: place one hand on your waist, the other on your chest, and take a deep slow breath. Pay attention to what happens. Your waist and body will expand to the sides in the inhale and contract on the exhale. The hand on your chest will move very little, if at all. Neck and shoulders should not move. Yes! Keep breathing the right way! Fortunately, you can do this exercise many times a day, whether you’re standing, sitting, or in a venue.
Of course, nobody is suggesting that this simple exercise is the all-time savior of anxiety and all of our problems. But breath by breath, it all adds up!
Here are a few meditation sources on Instagram:
Here are a few Apps:
- Headspace is the leading app ($69.99 /year)
- Calm (1 week for free, $69.99/year)
- Insight Timer (free always)